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The Prime Minister in Action

2019 New Year Party Jointly Hosted by the Three Economic Associations

January 7, 2019

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address
[Provisional translation]
On January 7, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the 2019 New Year Party jointly hosted by the three economic associations held in Tokyo.
The Prime Minister said in his address,
“I extend my heartfelt congratulations on the successful holding of this year’s New Year Party hosted by the three economic associations in such a magnificent manner once again this year with the attendance of many people.
We have been enjoying all in all quite nice weather up until today, and it has been a pleasant New Year. On January 4, I paid a visit to Ise Jingu. Two days prior, I played my first round of golf for 2019, and my very first shot was a nice one. My second shot, however, was not so great. This happened to be just when the press was there for coverage, and I believe some people might be thinking my shot was not very good. So I would like to have that corrected. Thanks to my first shot, I was able to achieve my best score for 2019. While some people’s faces seem to be saying that’s to be expected, you can look at your first score as either the best or worst score for the year, and I consider mine to be the best for 2019.
Afterwards, on my way to Ise Jingu, I saw Mt. Fuji distinctly out the window of the Shinkansen for a long while. I have a good inkling about the coming year. The next day, I went back to my hometown for a local New Year party, and on my way to the party’s venue, I saw a splendidly clear rainbow, which was shaped as the most unbelievably perfect gate I have ever seen. I then saw two deer with white bellies strutted across. It is often said that deer are envoys of the Shinto deity, and I believe I can see this as a fortuitous omen.
In today’s news and other reports, a nine-year-old girl had become a pro go player. Last year, Mr. Sota Fujii, professional shogi player, ranked 7-dan. This rise of the young generation, or the emergence of such youthful strength, brightens our future. I truly believe so. In addition, the first tuna auction of this year achieved a price of 300 million yen for a tuna from the town of Oma. While I thought it would be offered as expensive sushi, I was told it will be sold for a price of 200 to 400 yen for one piece. Turning to department stores, their new year sales also drew massive crowds, exceeded 7,500 people in Osaka, 8,500 people in Nagoya, and 10,000 people in Tokyo, and there were also lines.
As there is a saying that business sentiment starts from sentiment, last year marked the fifth year of consecutive wage increases, to achieve the highest levels in this century, owing to your efforts. Thank you so much. This time, I believe we can expect Mr. Nakanishi, who has succeeded Mr. Sakakibara, will exert his effort to this end. Actually, the average for winter bonuses last winter was 930,000 yen, a record high.
As it was touched upon just before, the increase of the consumption tax rate is scheduled this year. I believe it is of utmost necessity for us to strengthen the foundation of our economy. That means instilling our economy with further vigor for growth. We are seeing several economic forecasts that the current recovery of our economy would match the longest period of postwar economy recovery, after exceeding the ‘Izanagi boom.’ The longest economic recovery started during the Koizumi administration, and continued through the first Abe administration, the Fukuda administration, and the Aso administration. What is the biggest difference between that longest economic recovery – it included one year of the first Abe administration and I run my administration based on the lessons learned at that time-- and this time? Needless to say, the range of the growth is different. As we have created a situation that is not deflation, the nominal GDP has grown by five times. Here is the biggest difference. According to the Short-Term Economic Survey of Enterprises in Japan (Tankan) of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), it was only in the Kanto and Tokai regions where business sentiment was positive throughout the previous postwar economic recovery. For example, in Hokkaido and Shikoku, business sentiment was negative throughout this period. Meanwhile, in the case of the current economic recovery, business sentiment has been positive in all regions and conditions got better throughout Japan over the last five years. I believe this is the reason that the ratio of active job openings to applicants has exceeded 1.0 for all 47 prefectures. In addition, jobs were created for one million people during the previous recovery. This time, over three million jobs have been created. With polishing innovative technologies and surely investing in areas we should invest in, wages increase, consumption increases, investment also increases, and tax revenue increases. By allocating that for investment or solidifying the basis of social welfare, people can work hard with a peace of mind. We would like to create this virtuous economic cycle. Regarding the consumption tax, we will implement thorough measures based on the lessons learned from the decrease in consumption caused by the previous increase of three percent. I hope that we will overcome the increase of the consumption tax and ensure the exit from deflation by implementing a series of countermeasures at the level of returning the full amount of the incremental tax revenue or even possibly more.
This year is the Year of the Boar. The previous Year of the Boar twelve years ago was also the time of the Abe administration, while I have not been Prime Minister the entire time since then; I took a five-year break. I was certainly young back then. Looking back at the New Year’s reflection I made at that time, I said, as it was the year of the boar, I would unfalteringly lead the way ahead toward the creation of a beautiful country. There is an expression in Japanese meaning “to dash ahead without hesitation like a boar (chototsu-moshin).” While boars have that image, they actually carry themselves with great resilience. If there are obstacles, they will quickly change direction to avoid them. They occasionally make quick U-turns and continue moving forward. After twelve years, that is the difference in terms of managing the administration, which has changed from my previous one. This year, I will humbly manage the administration, all the while having a flexible and tolerant mindset. In this final year of the Heisei period, and the inaugural year of a new era, we will grow our economy, managing the administration firmly. In addition, I would like to overcome the difficult international circumstances. In closing, I wish you a brilliant year to come. Once again, my sincere congratulations.”

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